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Microsoft's Greenberg: Wii Customers May 'Graduate' To Xbox 360
Microsoft's Greenberg: Wii Customers May 'Graduate' To Xbox 360
July 4, 2008 | By Brandon Sheffield, Staff

July 4, 2008 | By Brandon Sheffield, Staff
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Talking to Gamasutra as part of a larger interview to be posted in the near future, Microsoft's Aaron Greenberg, director of product management for Xbox 360 and Xbox Live, has been commenting on Microsoft's attempts to attract casual gamers, suggesting that Wii customers are "going to want to graduate to an Xbox 360 experience" over time.

When asked about Microsoft's initiative to bring more casual gamers to the Xbox 360, and whether it's possible to appeal to 'core' and 'casual' game players in the same box, Greenberg commented specifically:

"Yeah, absolutely. I think that there's a difference in the type of customer that is buying the Wii. When you think about it, there's a difference between trying to be the number one console with nine year old gamers, and being the console that offers the most experiences from 13 to 33.

I think for us, we don't really see the Wii as a direct competitor, we actually very much complement the Wii experience. It's obviously clear that we're going head-to-head with the PS3 in this generation. I think what Xbox will be able to do as well as the Wii is grow the market.

In this generation we're seeing record revenues for the U.S. and globally for the business, and we're seeing more people buying and playing games than ever before, and the Wii is definitely part of that. And as they grow that pie, that benefits us too, because those customers are eventually going to want to graduate to an Xbox 360 experience."


When asked about Nintendo's de-emphasizing of hardware power with the Wii, with Gamasutra's interviewer suggesting that "...if they keep going down this path, they don't really need to make a Wii 2", Microsoft's Greenberg pointedly suggested:

"Everyone says that eventually the novelty will wear off, right? I think that a lot of the people that are buying that console today are not people that have generally bought consoles in the past, right?

You see they're not buying games on it, right? They're buying it, it's like something they break out when people come over, and it's maybe a fun thing, but it's almost like the same people that buy a karaoke machine, you know? They're not really buying it for games, they're just buying it as a novelty."


The full interview with Greenberg, including plenty more detail on Microsoft's thoughts on the state of the industry and plans for the rest of 2008, will debut on Gamasutra in the near future.


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Comments


Chris Melby
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Talk about being clueless, while suffering from a severe case of myopia, if not just wishful thinking, or it's just "FUD"!



2 years after the Wii's introduction and they're still trying to pass off this BS. it didn't work the other year, why should it work now?



I'm 35. I've been gaming since the seventies. I've been gaming on PCs for over 22 years now. The same is pretty much true for most of my friends. We bought Wiis. No we are not casual gamers and no we do not want 360s.



The XBox needs to graduate to better controls. Let's play a game like Gears of War on a controller designed for 3D platforming, do you people not see a problem with this? Does MS not realize the harm they've done to Window's gaming in general?



The PS2 had over a 100 million gamers world wide. Were they all casual gamers? Were they all hardcore gamers? No! The Wii has the same thing that made the PS2 a success, it's called diversity.

Geoffrey Mackey
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You guys have a great point. Any way you slice it, the numbers don't lie and Nintendo is winning the profitability war. It's almost insane when you consider that the Xbox arcade will soon be at the same price point as the Wii and it will continue to destroy the PS3 and Xbox in sales. I have to say that there is truth to what Greenberg is saying. I have at least three friends and myself who own Wii's and Xbox 360's. None of us really ever play the Wii except when people are over to do some Wii sports. It's say to say we play the Xbox 90% of the time and the rest is the wii. Of coarse we don't represent the entire population, but the truth is the Wii IS gimmicky and third party software is hurting the system. If I only owned the Wii, I would be hungry for more games. I don't think people will stop buying Wii's, but the scenario described is not hard to imagine.

Anonymous
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Wii sells a lot of machines and a lot of selected Nintendo games, but most developers are not making much money with it. In many ways, the Wii and the PS3/360 are completely different segments rather than competing against each other.

Anonymous
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There are people who will claim they're going to whoop you before playing a competitive game, and then afterwards when they lose, will start brushing it off trying to say they weren't really competing against you. (I wasn't really trying, I wasn't focusing, I'm getting warmed up, I went easy on you, I didn't think I'd have to go full power on you the first time, I was trying to play more professionally, you may have won the battle but I'll win the war, this game is too random, normally I would beat you if not for , etc etc.)



There is a console manufacturing market. Microsoft, Sony, and Nintendo are all competing in it. If this wasn't the case, then we couldn't be reading about the excuses of the bad losers.

Anonymous
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Why do executives insist on this kind of preposterously arrogant, misinformed, and childish chest-thumping? Seriously, what next ... Will he pull a Dennis Dyack and start flame wars on NeoGaf?

Matt Jones
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From what I see among friends and family everything Mr. Greenberg says is true. Lots of poeple I know own Wiis in addition to X-BOX 360's and or PS3's and their Wii's are the system they buy the least games for. In fact most rarely use the Wii at all. Granted it sells the most units but that says nothing about which is better. The big three consoles aren't designed for the same type of gamer. As for PC gamers it seems they as a standard dislike console gaming. As a gamer who's been around awhile I can say PC- 360, PS3 - and Wii gamers are very, very different from one another.

Anonymous
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I'll second a lot of what's been said. Of the 'gamers' I know (myself included) at college, none have only a Wii. My roommate has a Wii, but its gotten maybe 5% of our playtime. We get the latest games, but they don't have the online multiplayer that we've come to expect. We play a lot more Xbox Live because it's a much richer experience for people who have played games for years. The Wii is our first thought, however, when 'non-gamers' come to play. In that sense, I don't think Mr. Greenberg is making things up. If the industry is truly making _good games_ and not just technical demos or hardcore niche games, then casual controls and silent rubberband multiplayer aren't going to cut in forever.

David Delanty
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Graduate? GRADUATE!?



Excuse me, did the friendly Microsoft bloke just say Wii gamers will GRADUATE to the XBox360. They will GRADUATE from the innovative family-friendly top-selling gaming platform, GRADUATE from the greatest advancement in game design making motion, direction, and balance a pivotal gameplay element, GRADUATE to the mundane status quo sofa-silhouette symbol of 'just another gaming platform' XBox360? Am I reading that right? By graduating, they put away the novelty and return to the 'press button/nob joystick' formula that has been prevalent since the introduction of pinball?



Right.



As much as I love my XBox360, and consider myself a satisfied customer of both their game library and support, I don't see the 360 making a sweeping domination of all age groups like Nintendo has. I'm not seeing my mom (proud Wii owner) badgering my old man to step up to volume light shaders and normal mapped textures, because heaven forbid, if she doesn't get a 1080i output, she'd never be able to beat Guitar Hero on hard! No, it's not like that. She gets to strum a squeaky guitar, gets to bowl, gets to golf, and as long as she has a glass of red wine, she doesn't give a damn about single-handedly mowing down an invading alien force AGAIN via Unreal3 Engine.



And as long as she can beat me at bowling, there's no hope for her to "graduate" to a console that doesn't carry a single gaming experience she'd enjoy as much as humiliating her own kin.



But what's this? XBox is dumbing itself down? Making a less-packed version of itself, the XBox Arcade, to reach out to casual gamers...a marketing strategy that Nintendo has been staunchly following since the Gamecube? Microsoft...going the Nintendo route?



Well Jesus River-Dancin' Christ. WHO is graduating to WHO now?

David Delanty
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UPDATE:



Just five minutes after posting, I get an excited phone call from my 56 year old father. My parents now own Rock Band for the Wii.

Subjective Effect
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Where will MS be when the Wii2 comes out, with PS3/XBox360 hardware power (or greater) a more refined Wiimote and Lord knows what other innovations? They'll span the market and be the only choice and no amount of whining (like we see here) will help.

Matt Ponton
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So because the Wii is selling better than two other systems that are selling for their respective companies, those two companies should just pack up and leave? I don't think that's right. This whole 'console war' is stupid. As long as the companies can make money for themselves and maximize it the best they can, they will do fine. The PS3 has the same problems the 360 has in respect to the Wii. It is right for Microsoft to consider Sony their prime competitor. You don't see orange fruit farmers getting out of the business because apples sell better.

Anonymous
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man how do guys like this get these jobs? I'm leaving this industry for good.

leon lubking
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Many of the above make very valid points, the WII isn't just a casual game console, but i don't think anyone will debate that the 360 has a larger "hardcore" game catalogue.



I don't necesarily agree with the WII being a short gamer-

kindergarten stage and the 360 the culmination of their journey, but i would argue that we'll eventually see many casual gamers becoming more demanding and crossing over into "core" game territory.



When i started gaming most games were arguable still so simple that they could be perceived as Casual games today.

That allowed me to start off easy and develop my gamer skills as the games became more hardcore. But someone who didn't start gaming back then and would've liked to try it would've had to dive straight into hardcore games, the entry level "casual" game category was long missing.



I'm hoping these new gamers will develop, as i have, to be more experienced and demanding gamers. Eventually perhaps crossing into core-game territory and pushing the industry forward.

I've made a blog post about this last month so i won't go into it here any further.

Anonymous
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Being an American male, I have a natural predilection for using car metaphors, and this is no exception. I like to think of the Wii as a mini-van (family-oriented, low-powered, focus on ease of use vs. performance) and the 360 as a sports car (enthusiast-based, powerful, fast, focus on performance vs. ease of use). Do mini-vans outsell sports cars? Absolutely. Does that mean there will soon be no market for sports cars? Of course not. Does it mean that mini-van owners will eventually "graduate" to sports cars? No.



I own a 360 and I own a Wii. The wife and kids play the Wii, I play the 360. When we all play together, it's on the Wii.



I own an eight-seater SUV (essentially a mini-van) and a sports car. When my wife takes the kids out, it's in the mini-van. When I take everyone out, it's in the mini-van. However I take the sports car to work, and on a weekend when I need to run an errand I'll always choose the sports car first.



In my opinion, there is no "graduating" when it comes to the casual audience. However, as with the crossover vehicles we're now seeing more and more of -- mini-vans and SUVs with sports car-like lines and improved performance -- we may start to see game systems that try to bridge the gap between casual and hardcore.

Anonymous
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The Wii is a phenomenon in our industry, and it's difficult to dissect its success. People who have never been interested in games are suddenly buying up Wiis like a new tech fad, but Greenberg is right when he says they're not buying it for the games. One of the folks at Kotaku recently mentioned that peripherals are pushing sales for Nintendo, not games; and to me that seems 100% accurate. People want the novelty, but they don't yet want to become "gamers" like the hardcore. Will the Wiis successes with this previously untapped market lead to increased sales for Microsoft and Sony? Only if they can successfully bridge that gap between the casual and the hardcore (and so far, they haven't really done that).

Billy Bissette
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I don't know about most Wii customers "graduating" to the 360. And even for those that do, as time passes they are more and more likely to "graduate" to the PS3 instead of the 360. Microsoft has botched and continues to botch the 360 at nearly every level, while the PS3 continues to slowly edge forward in the "high-tech" part of this console generation.



But I have to agree with others above who have said they do most of their gaming on non-Wii systems. The same is true for me. I play my friend's 360 and my PS2 more than I do my Wii. One of my friends plays primarily 360 games, and then plays Gamecube games on his Wii, and barely plays anything at all for the Wii itself. Another plays PS2 and Wii. And a couple of others just skipped the Wii entirely, seeing no point to actually owning the system.



The simple truth is that most of the games for the Wii are crap. Companies see the Wii as some casual-gamer paradise, where they can make a quick buck with shovelware quality productions sold at full price. Even the big companies are doing it. Just look at garbage like Soul Calibur Legends, the cut-down party game that is the Wii Smackdown vs Raw, the ton of party games, or any game with poorly implemented motion control shoved in as the primary control method.



In that regard, people may very well desire to "graduate" to another platform, just to get other kinds of games.

Anonymous
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Well, the big cheese has to justify title, position, numbers, knowledge and clout....



None of which adds up.



The emperor has no clothes!

Anonymous
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Check your facts before posting. MS went into the black with their gaming and devices unit last year... they did make money. Second, look at the attach rate of the wii... its less than 2, which means that most people who buy the wii, only own wii sports. Nintendo knew this, thats they they needed to be profitable from selling the system rather than selling licenses to 3rd parties to publish on the platform.



I know its hard for gamers to understand, but not everything is a competition. MS and Wii really aren't competing. The wii is either a 2nd platform or sitting with an owner that has no interest in hardcore gaming. MS and Nintendo have completely different business models and the wii owner who only owns wii sports would be a loss in revenue if they were a 360 customer (which has an attach rate of 5-7 depending on source but unquestionably the highest in the industry).



I wouldn't use the word "graduate" as it comes off wrong, but he isn't wrong. He is quite right.


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